Bernie Brewer is dancing in the streets. Christian Yelich recently signed a nine year $215 Million contract to stay with the Brewers. Yelich went above and beyond, even agreeing to some significant deferrals to make the deal happen. Yelich loves Milwaukee, Milwaukee loves Yelich, all is right in Brewerville. A big part of the outfield is set. But that doesn’t mean there’s not some good old competition on the Brewer’s infield to sift through as spring training games have begun in earnest. In particular, the shortstop position is in flux. Who can fantasy players depend on, much less Craig Counsell?
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Luis Urias burst onto prospect lists in 2016 in single High A Lake Elsinore , where he murdered his fellow league mates to a .330/.397/.836 slash line as a 19 year old. Flash forward to 2018 and his work in the notoriously offensive friendly AAA PCL (.296/.398/.845) got him a cup of coffee with the Padres. A year later he was traded to the Brewers, who were hoping they had the short stop of the future. He manged to get a wrist injury in 2019 winter ball that needed surgery almost immediately after being traded, which is why he is not installed as the everyday shortstop right now. In 2019 the 22 year old only hit .223/.329/.655, but did manage to pull it together in September to a .300/.371/.796 line. He makes a lot of contact, draws walks, has power and can steal a few bags. That alone would make the now 23 year old a prime breakout candidate. But wrist injuries are tricky, the recovery could be smooth or it could drag on for months. Because of this the Brewers will most likely slow play his recovery despite his proclamations of being ready by opening day. That opens the door for….
The Passed Over Kid
Once upon a time Orlando Arcia was the up and coming Brewer shortstop of the future. But that was way back in 2017 when he hit 15 home runs with 17 steals and a .277 batting average. Since then things haven’t exactly gone to plan. Despite over 800 at bats since he hasn’t batted over .236. But the reason he’s still around are the 15 home runs he hit last year, to match his 2017 career high. There is a world where Urias takes too long to come back and Arcia hits the ground running. If Arcia shows well in spring training and gets the majority of at bats in April hitting anything close to .270 he could run with the position for the year. That said, the chances are good he doesn’t get it going. Is there someone else to step into the breach?
The Just Give Me A Chance Cheerleader
The lovable Brock Holt, fresh off endearing himself to Red Sox Nation with his post home run celebrations with J.D. Martinez and dedication to the Jimmy Fund, was brought in with a one year $3.25 Million deal. That’s not chump change in Milwaukee. Last year he did what he’s been doing his whole career, perform pretty well and get injured. He hit .297/.369/.771 in 87 games. After fighting all kinds of ailments, including vertigo from concussions, he’s been waiting for a chance to prove himself over a full season. Now 31 he’ll be willing to be anywhere, and he has played everywhere on the diamond. He’s not a full time shortstop by any means, but if Arcia stumbles and can’t hit his weight and Urias is delayed Holt could come on and not let go. He is capable of a .300 batting average with power, which a manager might become enamored with.
The ‘Oh Yeah That Guy’
You may remember Ronny Rodriguez from such movies as 14 home runs, 43 RBI and a sneaky three steals in Detroit last year. You also may remember that he only hit .221 with a .252 OBP. He’s there as a kind of insurance for the insurance of Brock Holt along with the insurance of Orlando Arcia for Luis Urias.
Keep a close watch on the Brewers’s shortstop battle this spring. Either Brock Holt or Orlando Arcia could come away with consistent at bats and be excellent sources of value at drafts. And who knows, Ronny Rodriguez could pull a James K Polk in the 1844 Democratic nomination process and be a dark horse for the 2020 Brewers shortstop. It’s a great battle to watch all spring long.